Bitches Brew review by Miles Davis

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  • Released: Jan 1, 2011
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.3 (28 votes)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
4

Sound — 10
The sound of this album is very hard to describe. The instruments include trumpet (of course), up to three electric pianos (one in the left channel, one in the right, and one in the center), two drummers (one in the left channel and one in the right), upright bass, up to two electric bass player, electric guitar, soprano saxophone, congas, shakers, and bass clarinet. The music is very experimental. The sound is very layered, so much so that there is never a dull movement in any of the songs, there is always a pulse, moving the song forward. The opening song "Pharaoh's Dance" to be experienced fully needs to be listened to with headphones so you can hear the different instruments in each channel. The two drummers and three electric pianos drive the rhythm of the song while Miles Davis' trumpet soars overhead with th other instruments providing a sonic collage. This layering continues in other songs on the album. To say that speaker placement is key in these songs would be an understatement. The production quality is very good for having been recorded 40 years ago. The thing is even though the album was recorded 40 years ago it still sounds ahead of it's time. If you listen to this without any distractions it will take you for a ride.

Lyrics — 10
The whole album is instrumental.

Overall Impression — 10
Often regarded as one of Miles Davis' best albums only surpassed by "Kind of Blue." To compare these two albums is hard considering the huge difference in sound between the two, where "Kind of Blue" has a very traditional classic jazz sound, "Bitches Brew" is an experimental jazz roller coaster propelled by layered instrumentation and studio manipulation. "Bitches Brew" marked a radical change for Davis ushering in elements of rock and avant-garde into his Jazz sound, appropriately this album is often credited with inventing the Jazz-Rock or Jazz Fusion genres, that would continue to be popularized in the early '70s by artists such as Chicago, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa and Santana. To me the most impressive songs are first two tracks "Pharaoh's Dance" and "Bitches Brew." But I really like all of the songs on this album because they are distinct yet fit together as an album well. Personally I don't have any complaints about this album. The only complaint I could see anyone having with this album is the length of the tracks. With only one song below the 10 minute mark, "John McLaughlin," the tracks can drag on to non experienced of instrumental music or jazz. For rock music fans looking to get into Jazz, I highly recommend this album. Progressive rock fans will also appreciate this album. If it were stolen I would definitely have it replaced, not only for the music, but the beautiful album art which reminds me of a Dali painting.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    N-D
    Finally review on this timeless classic!
    Iommianity
    A lot of people make the mistake of listening to Bitches Brew as their first Miles Davis album, or even their first jazz album. Bitches Brew was more of an experiment than a set of nice sounding tunes to relax to. If you want pretty melodies and tunes, you'd be better off checking out Kind of Blue; hell, even A Tribute To Jack Johnson is a more accessible of the jamming on Bitches Brew. Come back to it when you can at least appreciate it for what it is instead of what it isn't.
    bokma
    I have made that 'mistake'. In fact, Bitches Brew was my first jazz album ever... It just made me enter the genre with a more open mind
    Iommianity
    It was my first Miles Davis album too and I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't hate it or anything, because I was already into some 'out there' stuff, but I definitely wouldn't recommend Bitches Brew as the Miles Davis album for people wanting to get into jazz.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    This was the first Jazz album I ever listened and personally I loved it, but I like a lot of experimental stuff, so that's probably why. If this doesn't cut it for you "Kind of Blue" should do the trick.
    logicbdj
    And what if a person cannot appreciate it or like it? It's like me telling someone who does not like Bach (insert any composer) that Bach is great and that eventually that person will like that he or she does not.
    Iommianity
    If a person doesn't like something and they gave it a chance, fine. I don't know about you, but my first impression of an album definitely isn't how I might feel about it down the line, especially if it's an album from a genre I'm just getting into. I've come to appreciate plenty of music that I didn't like or couldn't get on the first listen, and Bitches Brew is a fine example. In your example, that person not liking Bach doesn't exclude Bach from being great. They may not like Bach, and good for them, but that doesn't speak to anything except their preferences. Liking an album doesn't necessarily mean having an appreciation for it; you don't have to like Bitches Brew, but if you can't admit that there's worth in it beyond your perception of it, that's kind of arrogant.
    logicbdj
    Who said that I couldn't find something in it or that there isn't something worth in it (for OTHERS who want to listen to it)? In fact, the first time I listened to it I was 15... I'm now going on 49. I've listened to a lot of different music over the years, and for longer than some of the people on this site has been alive. So what if I don't like it? I gave an opinion and I won't expect you to like everything else out there either. I'm into melody and this stuff sounds like a lot of random notes, no matter how 'experimental' and 'great' it may be to the ears of others. Not everyone must like this album. I think Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best albums, but I know people who can't stand it or think it very average, which has nothing to do with appreciation for the musicians or composers involved. And no where (quote me and I'll pay you $1000) did I say there is no appreciation for Davis or what he has contributed to music and to jazz. That's you and a few others reading into something that doesn't exist. It's best not to ASSume.
    Iommianity
    Buddy, I literally have no idea what you're ranting about. If you listened to it, gave it a shot and didn't like it, fine. What is it that you're really whining about? Try again, because I'm not even sure what you're trying to argue anymore.
    Iommianity
    Bottom line, you gave reasoning behind your opinion that didn't add up. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but the burden of communication is on you, not other people. Whatever it is you're trying to say, you're doing a piss poor job of it, and you continue to check back on an album you don't care for. If I said I didn't like The Beatles because they don't have melodies. Anyone who's listened to the Beatles is going to roll their eyes. That's it, that's all. No one can tell me I'm wrong for not liking the Beatles, but clearly my reasoning is flat out wrong, because they're all melody!
    bokma
    All 10s- The way it should be. This is one of the most important experimental albums ever recorded.
    fldsthedrummer
    I agree 100%. Nobody has even come close to playing what these guys did. Filles de Kilimanjaro is my favorite Miles album of all time though. I think it was a perfect marriage of traditional and experimental.
    aCiDJaZzy666
    Honestly, I underestimated this album until the first time I got really stoned and listened to it. Now its one of my favorite albums.
    benjixoath
    if it takes mind altering drugs for you to appreciate an album, then you've got a pretty sad life going there buddy.
    aCiDJaZzy666
    Miles Davis was on drugs i'm sure during the making of the album. Have you ever smoked some good weed and listened to it? Have you ever smoked weed and listened to music? If not, then you've got a pretty sad life going there buddy.
    Hydra150
    I really like Kind of Blue, but this one's a little bit too out there for me.
    logicbdj
    Hydra, apparently you must like it and show your appreciation... otherwise, you get some idiot critics critiquing your opinion for not doing so.
    Iommianity
    Lol, you really are sensitive, aren't you? How do I critique someone for having an honest preference? Maybe if he had said he hates Bitches Brew because like punk, or something else completely inapt.
    Iommianity
    The ultimate irony is that my point had absolutely nothing to do with Bitches Brew, and everything to do with the fact that if you're looking for melodic jazz, you could find Miles Davis albums you like that are nothing like Bitches Brew, but you're too hung up on bullshit.
    wafflesyrup
    Since the first time I heard this album I knew it was one of the greatest displays of musical inspiration my ears may ever hear. Every single time I've listened to it, something new pops out at me. This music is a world all of itself.
    wafflesyrup
    Though I might add that this 'world' naturally has some unsavory characters - this only helps in defining the beauty of the stories being told
    AlecBeretz
    jazz is complete musical freedom. to me, its like the musicians mind going straight into the instrument. well, the human mind is hardly perfect and melodic. you express whatever you are feeling. sometimes it's a beautiful melody, and sometimes is gonna be a dissonant mess. but a dissonant mess can still be beautiful because it represents a feeling. For example, a tritone can hardly convey love but a tritone could convey shock or surprise. Vice versa, good luck making a I IV V chord progression sound sad, it ain't gonna happen. If you are looking for melody, and you hear tritones, of course you aren't gonna like it. But what if you've had a confusing and surprising day? Suddenly a rough piece of jazz reveals its simple purpose. Melodic, non melodic, its all the same, its just what YOU as the listener can relate to.
    logicbdj
    I love jazz in general, but I'm finding it hard to get into Miles Davis. Perhaps because I'm into melody (e.g., Beatles) and I find a lot on this album sounds like random notes. I'm not saying it is, but it sounds that way to my ears. To each his or her own.
    Iommianity
    If you love jazz in general, it's kind of hard to believe this album is what prevents you fromt getting into Miles Davis. The guy literally played some of the most melodic, tuneful jazz for decades. Bitches Brew IS random notes, to the extent that it largely consists of improv within set perimeters that were eventually edited together to produce songs based on those perimeters or motifs. Don't just stop at this one album just because it's one of his more well known, you're doing yourself a disservice. Miles Davis wrote some of the most accessible jazz of his day, along with John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.
    logicbdj
    I have some of his live stuff... who said I only listened to this one album. Don't ASSume my listening background please.
    Iommianity
    My post wasn't negative, and I 'assumed' as much as you stated. This is a review of Bitches Brew, and it sounded like it was the only album you had listened to; chill out. It's just weird to say that having a preference for melody is what prevented you from getting into Miles Davis when Miles Davis has some of the most melodic jazz you could find without taking more than 30 seconds to explore the genre, which you generally love...I'm assuming anyway, don't get defensive.
    TheTee56
    I like jazz, I really do. I respect its complexity and its improvisation and the sheer focus of musicians when they're playing. BUT THIS.FUCKING.ALBUM. I hope I never have to hear a nano-second of it again. Ever.
    freedomtrain71
    One of the things this album teaches you, along with In A Silent Way, is that it's ok to not like something and it' ok to like something for reasons you can't exactly explain. There is someties groove and there is sometimes chaos. One thing about this album is don't expect the songs to be anything. Once you surrender, then parts of them will reveal themselves. But maybe only parts at first. Maybe only that sound the organ is making where you wish it were in a different song sounding that way, but at first. Or the way Miles comes in over the and above everything and demands your ear... but its fleeting. It might take you a while to surrender to this, but the sounds will get you eventually if you free your mind from what music is "supposed to sound like." It's a huge risk of an album. It's people who are going to the limits and risking. This album is truly worth it. Its not rubbish. This album is space and time. It is somewhat of an existential experience. It's not what you think music should be. This is truly cerebral art here. You have to abandon your notions. Don't focus on the lack of "melody", listen to how the sounds relate to one another first. Listen to how incredibly holy they sound in contrast to one another without considering it music, first. Give this album ten years, twenty years.... its worth it.
    CharlesDickens
    I really enjoyed Kind of Blue, and Doo-Bop is pretty good too, I had better get onto Bitches Brew then.
    jazzandbeer
    I bought this album when it first came out and I liked it. I was, however put off it to some degree by friends of mine, who's opinion I respected, who didn't like it. At the time I suppose I enjoyed more melodic music, whether jazz or other. Now I'm fairly bored by tracks I know backwards or music that is somehow predictable and I enjoy this album a lot more than I did then although I may find one or two passages a little tedious. All in all I think it's great.
    bodom888
    Masterpiece. Difficult to get into, but a complete trip from the begining to the end.